Egypt’s notorious police brutality record -al Jazerra

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This article provides a good, although brief overview of Egypt’s internal security organizations and their record. As the quote below illustrates, Egypt’s security forces have reputation for brutality:

  • “If you want a serious interrogation, you send a prisoner to Jordan. If you want them to be tortured, you send them to Syria. If you want someone to disappear and never to see them again, you should send them to Egypt,” the Former CIA officer Robert Baer said in 2004, six years before the Arab uprisings started.
  • In 2015 alone, more than 1,250 forced disappearance and 267 alleged extrajudicial killings were recorded in Egypt with well over 40,000 political prisoners.”

The institutions have evolved since 2010:

  • “During Mubarak’s times, three institutions mainly constituted them:General Intelligence Apparatus (GIA), the State Security Investigation(SSI – now renamed National Security Apparatus or NSA) and the Military Intelligence Apparatus (MIA).
  • The first is directly affiliated with the presidential establishment and has its own special status under the legal framework. The second falls under the Ministry of Interior, and by far the most powerful institution within it. The third belongs to the Ministry of Defence, and gradually grew in power and mandate – to dominate the two other institutions, and smaller ones since 2011.
  • “They [MIA officers] became the eyes and ears of the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces. The rest of intelligence apparatuses were not trusted,” said a former brigadier-general, who spoke on condition of anonymity given the situation.
  • The eyes and the ears gradually became the brain, as well. The MIA intervened in parliamentary “elections”, ran political prisons, and formulated anti-opposition policies.”

Perhaps most interesting, the security services compete with each other and have their political agendas and security strategies:

  • ” Domestically, these armed security institutions competed to have “political wings”. In the 2015 parliamentary elections, each of them sponsored different multi-party blocs and individual candidates.”
  • “But these institutions also compete when it comes to foreign security policy. One of their public clashes occurred this month. The Minister of Interior Magdy Abdel Ghaffar – a former head of the NSA/SSI – declared that Palestinian Hamas was directly involved in assassinating the former Attorney General, Hisham Barakat.
  • Six days later, the GIA invited the political leaders of Hamas to Cairo to discuss security and military cooperation in Northeast Sinai, where the regime has failed to quell a growing insurgency. “So, one institution considers them terrorists and the other considers them counterterrorism official partners. Bamboozling … we certainly got multiple security policies, not a ‘bad-cop, good-cop’ one,” a former major-general in the Egyptian armed forces told me.”

 

http://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/opinion/2016/03/egypt-notorious-police-brutality-record-160322143521378.html

 

Italian student’s death puts Egyptian abuses back on agenda -BBC

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“The recent death in Cairo of Italian graduate student Giulio Regeni has triggered fresh concerns about Egypt’s human rights situation, five years after mass protests forced President Hosni Mubarak from power…..”

“Rights groups say hundreds of people who have nothing to do with either IS or the banned Muslim Brotherhood have faced abuse including torture, sexual assault, arbitrary arrest, disappearances, prolonged detention, disproportionately harsh sentences, unfair trials and death in custody.

Many students, journalists, academics and secular-leaning activists hailed as heroes of the 2011 uprising are now in prison.”

 

http://www.bbc.com/news/world-middle-east-35540065

Did data miss the Arab Uprisings? -World Bank

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“What we saw in both Egypt and Tunisia, as well as in other countries who witnessed unrest including Bahrain and Syria, with this behavioral metric was the reality masked by GDP per capita trends and other classic economic metrics. In fact, in the years leading to the unrest, while trends of traditional metrics could be best described as “uneventful, with a slight uptick,” life evaluation data were telling a clear and consistent story in Tunisia, Egypt, Yemen and Bahrain. The general theme of those data were, “‘Warning, contents under pressure. Do not shake!” This was due to the clear decline in how citizens themselves were evaluating their lives. It was apparent that far too many saw the future as bleak, irrespective of GDP or what other classic metrics said about their countries.”

https://i1.wp.com/blogs.worldbank.org/arabvoices/files/arabvoices/egypt_gdp_gallup.jpg

http://blogs.worldbank.org/arabvoices/did-data-miss-arab-uprisings

Enduring repression and insurgency in Egypt’s Sinai -BBC

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A good analysis of the violence in the Sinai:

“Between 2004 and 2015, the Sinai insurgency has grown from mainly an urban terrorism campaign of bombing soft targets (such as the Taba Hilton in 2004) to a structured, low-to-mid level insurgency, aiming primarily for “hard” targets (such as Battalion 101 Camp in el-Arish, the HQ of the military campaign, dubbed “Sinai’s Guantanamo” by locals).”

http://www.bbc.com/news/world-middle-east-33905477

Harsh questions for Egypt amid U.N. rights review -al Arabiya

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“Under the auspices of the Human Rights Council, Egypt, along with all U.N. Member States, will have their human rights record reviewed under the ‘Universal Periodic Review’ (UPR) – and there will be many in Geneva who will have some rather harsh questions. It’s an opportunity for the Egyptian state – but few are holding out for the possibility that it will take it.”

http://english.alarabiya.net/en/views/news/middle-east/2014/11/04/Harsh-questions-for-Egypt-amid-U-N-rights-review.html

Sisi gives Egypt military new powers after Sinai attack -BBC

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Its deja vu all over again. One of the main complaints leveled against the Mubarak regime was that it ruled under a constant state of emergency. The state of emergency was put in place when Mubarak took power after the assignation of Anwar Sadat in 1981, and it remained in place until after he was overthrown. Sisi has now brought it back, at least for the next 3 months.

http://www.bbc.com/news/world-middle-east-29791310

Egypt imposes state of emergency in Sinai after attacks -BBC

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“There has been no claim of responsibility for Friday’s suicide blast at an army checkpoint that killed 28 soldiers.
At least 28 others were injured in the attack near El Arish, the main town in the north of the restive peninsula.
Three more soldiers died in a separate shooting at a checkpoint in the town itself.”

“The area has become increasingly lawless since President Hosni Mubarak was overthrown in 2011. Militants have stepped up attacks since Islamist President Mohammed Morsi was ousted by the army last year.”

http://www.bbc.com/news/world-middle-east-29766945

Obama administration downgrades signature Mideast democracy program -al Monitor

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“MEPI’s demise is indicative of a broader backing off from supporting civil society and falling back into the old pattern of not antagonizing old allies.”

There has always been an uneasy balance between democracy promotion and geo-politics in the US’s Middle East policy. When Mubarak fell from power, the US sided with the opposition, giving him a firm push. Now with geo-politics and the war on terror back on the agenda, they have no problem with Sisi, who is little more than Mubarak-light.

http://www.al-monitor.com/pulse/originals/2014/10/united-states-middle-east-democracy-program.html

Turkey Loses U.N. Security Council Seat in Huge Upset -Newsweek

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Turkey lost in its bid to secure a seat as a non-permanent member of the security councils apparently after heavy opposition from Saudi Arabia and Egypt. They were not punishing Ankara for its unwillingness to help the Kurds in Kobane, but for its support for the Muslim Brothers. Venezuela, New Zealand, Spain, Angola and Malaysia will be joining the body in January. They will be replacing Argentina, Australia, Luxembourg, South Korea and Rwanda.

http://www.newsweek.com/venezuela-malaysia-angola-new-zealand-win-un-council-seats-277962

ISIS Has Almost No Popular Support in Egypt, Saudi Arabia, or Lebanon -Washington Institute

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http://www.washingtoninstitute.org/policy-analysis/view/isis-has-almost-no-popular-support-in-egypt-saudi-arabia-or-lebanon

Recent polling data shows some interesting patterns:
“ISIS has almost no popular support in Egypt, Saudi Arabia, or Lebanon — even among Sunnis. Among Egyptians, a mere 3 percent express a favorable opinion of ISIS. In Saudi Arabia, the figure is slightly higher: 5 percent rate ISIS positively. In Lebanon, not a single Christian, Shiite, or Druze respondent viewed ISIS favorably; and even among Lebanon’s Sunnis, that figure is almost equally low at 1 percent.”

However, when questioned abut other groups or governments, there was a strong relationship between identity and attitudes. In Lebanon, “Hezbollah, as expected, is rated favorably by 92 percent of Shiites. Among Christians, that figure drops dramatically, yet still hovers near 40 percent. But among Lebanon’s Sunnis, a mere 8 percent have a positive view of Hezbollah.” and “Among the country’s Shiites, both the Iranian and even the Syrian governments enjoy a 96-97 percent approval rating. Conversely, among Lebanon’s Sunnis, Iran gets just 12 percent favorable reviews and Syria just 14 percent. Interestingly, however, Lebanese Christians fall somewhere in the middle on this measure: over a third (37 percent) give Iran at least a “fairly positive” rating, and nearly half (47 percent) say the same about Syria, where Bashar al-Assad’s regime is sometimes viewed as their protector against ISIS and other Islamic extremists.”

A final point: “shared opposition to ISIS does not mean high ratings for the United States. In Egypt and in Saudi Arabia alike, America now has a dismal 12 percent approval number. In Lebanon, that number doubles to 25 percent, but again along a sharply polarized sectarian gradient: from 39 percent among Christians, to 30 percent among Sunnis or Druze, down to a measly 3 percent approval among the plurality Shiite population”